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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Rural Kashmir's killer roads: 174 dead in eight months

Wasim Nabi, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, October 23, 2013
First Published: 20:02 IST(23/10/2013) | Last Updated: 20:04 IST(23/10/2013)

The death of three youths in their twenties in north Kashmir's Baramulla district on Eid last week has brought the spotlight back on the increasing number of accidents in the countryside in Kashmir.

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The state traffic department's figures are painting a grim picture of rural Kashmir. At least 174 people have been killed and 1,658 injured in 118 accidents in rural pockets of the Valley till August only.

The Srinagar city's graph also shows no let up in the number of accidents and deaths. At least 42 have been killed in 304 accidents in just eight months of this year. Last year, 64 were killed on roads and 538 accidents were recorded.

The grim figures of 2012 have failed to invoke any fresh measures from the traffic department to reduce the number of accidents. Last year, 1,845 accidents occurred in rural Kashmir, which left 320 dead and around 2,995 injured.

The state traffic department admits that there are some shortcomings on part of the government. "Besides increasing number of vehicles, lack of infrastructure and dilapidated roads are the main reasons for increasing road accidents in the Kashmir Valley," admitted superintendent of police, traffic, Haseeb Ur Rahman.

He also blamed callous and negligent driving for nasty mishaps.

"Most accidents take place at the intersections where a driver faces traffic from four sides," said Rehman.

He identified the city's accident-prone intersections as Sanat Nagar Chowk, Dalgate, Bypass, Soura Chowk, Jahangir Chowk and Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.

The police said drivers' cooperation is must to reduce number of accidents. "The rate of road accidents can be decreased if precautionary measures are taken. There is need for drivers to fasten seat-belts while driving, wearing helmets and driving within speed limit," said Rehman.

Based on the data with the police, the traffic department blames three things for increasing accidents in this order --- overspeeding, overloading of passengers and overtaking.

"We have been trying to improve the traffic situation in the state to decrease the rate of road accidents. Several measures like dividers, speed breakers, traffic lights and sign boards are in place," said Rehman.


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